The Gippsland Lakes are a network of lakes, marshes and lagoons, covering an area of around 350 square kilometres. From Bairnsdale, I followed the Princes Highway, as it snaked its way down and around a point known as Jemmy’s Point.
In 1889, a wall was built to fix the position of a naturally occurring channel between the lakes and Bass Strait, to stabilise the water level, create a harbour for fishing boats and to open the lakes up to shipping. Hence the name, Lakes Entrance.
The town lies on a narrow strip of land between Cunninghame Arm and North Arm.
It was quiet while I was there but a local lady told me that at Christmas the population swells from 5000 to 50,000. I’m not sure how exact these figures are but it would account for all the holiday units, caravan parks and hotels.
An avenue of Monterey Cypress trees was planted in 1924 to commemorate the 26 local men who lost their lives in World War 1. Chainsaw artist, John Brady, transformed six of the stumps into sculptures, representing scenes from the War, and spaced them along the Esplanade. It’s a lovely touch. Quite moving.
After an early night, I headed up the Esplanade to book an afternoon cruise around the lakes, before settling back in the sunshine at a cafe on the very peaceful North Arm.
The weather turned during the afternoon lakes cruise, the only time the sun deserted me. It was pretty wild and woolly out on deck but I hung in, trying to get some good photos, all to no avail. Still, I recommend the cruise, which takes you through Lake King and Lake Victoria, past the little village of Metung to the burgeoning town of Paynesville and back.
People live on a couple of the islands in the lakes, with no access to the town other than by boat. With none of the normal amenities (electricity, water, etc.) laid on, they create their own. What an interesting little community it must be.
After another early night (the television didn’t work, even after the man fixed it), I wandered across the Cunninghame Arm bridge to 90 mile beach for a serious dose of nature, my favourite sort – ocean and crashing waves.
I walked for an hour and then realised there was no way across to the town other than going all the way back to Cunninghame Bridge. A great morning’s exercise.
I love this photo. The pelicans were ganging up on the seagull but the gull wasn’t the least bit intimidated.
Lakes Entrance is a lovely place for a break and some rejuvenation, other than during summer, of course. I can’t imagine it being too relaxing then, though great for families.